ENERGY FLOW: Mt Piper Power Station. Picture: NICK MOIR.
Research fellow at Charles Sturt University, Barney Foran, who specialises in low carbon energy said that investing in the use of landfill as a fuel for electricity production, an Australian first, at Mt Piper Power Station was a good idea.
He said that landfill processed for waste to energy schemes contains about 10 megajoules of energy per kilogram: a third of the energy contained in a litre of standard petrol, half of the energy of black coal and roughly the same energy content as brown coal.
“To me and many like me, rather than chucking all this stuff in a big hole in the dirt or desperately trying to find use of all the plastics we use it’s better to at least salvage the energy content in it. This is established practice in many areas of Europe, where things are a lot tighter, there’s more people and less land for waste,” Mr Foran said.
“The system is broken in its current state. Salvaging the energy content of what we can is the least that we can do.”
He said he is not surprised residents surrounding Mt Piper have concerns.
This year the Victorian government released a discussion paper to inform policy on waste to energy.
“It is possible to recycle some of these residues… the residual outputs may end up in landfill. In some cases, residues may require careful and sometimes costly management,” it said.
“Like all waste management and treatment facilities, a waste to energy facility may impact upon the local community. Depending on the type of feedstock and the treatment methods used, odour, noise, local transport congestion and even dust and vermin can possibly be issues.”
The paper said a number of plants successfully operated in populated areas overseas, mentioning in particular a waste to electricity plant located in a dense residential suburb of Paris.